Shakira, world renowned artist and founder of ALAS, has been an activist for education and early childhood since 1997. Shortly after her first international success, she founded the Barefoot Foundation which has built 6 schools, implementing a comprehensive intervention model that provides high quality education to over 6000 vulnerable children and youth in Colombia.
In 2006, Shakira led the creation of ALAS, a movement dedicated to: promoting early childhood development in Latin America, raising awareness on early childhood in a massive way through “Concerts for children”, an activity which lead to an audience of 400,000 spectators and millions of viewers in 13 countries.
Meeting with various heads of State of the region, Shakira has driven the commitment to transform and promote public policies for children between 0 and 6 years old. As a result of these efforts, alliances were formalized through ALAS, specifically resulting in concrete projects with the Buenos Aires City Government, the Presidents of Colombia and Brazil, and the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Moreover, in 2011 the President of the United States, Barack Obama, appointed Shakira as a Member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in the USA. She is also a founding member of the United Nations and International Monetary Fund’s commission for an Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action. This commission aims to meet the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015.
Shakira has received recognition on various occasions for her philanthropic work, for example the European MTV Award for humanitarian work, the Latin American MTV Agent of Change Award; she was also named Artist of the year in 2011 by the Harvard Foundation and recognized as the Person of the Year in 2011 by the Latin Recording Academy®, among others. Additionally Shakira was nominated for the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2012 for her work and the work of her foundations to help disadvantaged children in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Alejandro Santo Domingo – President and Founding member
Alejandro Santo Domingo is a Harvard University graduate and is the Chairman of the Executive Board of ALAS Foundation. He is the Managing Director of Quadrant Capital Advisors, Inc. in New York, a member of the board of SABMiller PLC, Vice Chairman of SABMiller Latin America, Chairman of Bavaria SA and Member of the Board of Backus & Johnston SAA in Peru. Likewise, Alejandro Santo Domingo is Director of Valorem SA, Caracol Television and Mario Santo Domingo Foundation. He currently serves on the Board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the American Foundation and DKMS Aid for Aids.
María Emma Mejía
María Emma is a Colombian journalist and diplomat with broad experience in international affairs. She has held various senior positions in the government for over the course of the past two decades. Likewise, she has devoted much of her career to the issue of peace and relationships between the Latin American countries.
Currently she is the Permanent Ambassador of Colombia to the United Nations. She previously served as Secretary General of UNASUR, based in Ecuador, having been appointed by the Heads of State Council in 2011. Throughout her political career, she has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Education, Colombian Ambassador in Spain, Council to the presidency for security issues in Medellin, negotiator for the peace process with the FARC, and a member of the Civilian Facilitation Commission for the peace talks between the government and the ELN.
Between 2003 and 2011 she was Chief Executive of the Barefoot Foundation, created by Colombian singer Shakira. Additionally, María Emma has served on the boards of philanthropic foundations, in the Reflection Group which advises the Secretary- General of the OAS and was Head of the OAS and Unasur Electoral Observation Missions in Paraguay in 2009, Costa Rica in 2010 and Ecuador in 2013. She worked as a journalist for the news magazine programs: Protagonistas del siglo, Entérate con María Emma y El Radar, for Caracol TV in Colombia.
José María Michavila
Born in Spain, José María is a politician, professor, businessman and Spanish lawyer. He represented the People’s Party from 1993 to 2004 and was a member of the Spanish Government for the eight years that it was led by Jose María Aznar, first acting as Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs and then as Minister for Justice. In June 2008, Michavila and Daniel de Fernando, formerly a banker with JP Morgan, founded the multi-family business MdF which has offices in Madrid, Barcelona, London and New York. In March 2010 he was named President of the Advisory Board to the Spanish branch of Wolters Kluwer, and since October 2010 has been an advisor to JP Morgan’s infrastructure fund. José María Michavila is also Secretary General of the ALAS Foundation.
With more than 28 years of experience in the international financial markets, Enrique Narciso has been a principal of multiple financial institutions in the United States, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela. Mr. Narciso was Managing Director for Latin America of a New York based Hedge Fund. He was also a partner, and board member of a leading Venezuelan insurance company.
As Senior Managing Director of a Latin America focused investment bank, Mr. Narciso managed a $ USD 200 million diversified portfolio, with an emphasis in Emerging Markets investments. In addition, Enrique was a founding partner of many technology companies, including PageCell International (Cyclelogic), acquired by StarMedia Network, a public U.S company; where he was responsible for the re-organization of the company after becoming President and CEO.
Since 2006, Mr. Narciso has been engaged as Business Manager and Financial Consultant for the recording artist Shakira, overseeing the financial issues related to her productions, business activities, and her wealth management.
Juan Antonio Pungiluppi – Executive Director -ad honorem- (2009 - PRESENT)
Juan Antonio Pungiluppi holds a degree in Business Administration from CESA in Bogotá, Colombia. He is a Cofounder and the Executive Vice-president of Teka Capital, a private equity fund dedicated to investing in medium sized businesses primarily in Colombia and Brazil, in the following sectors: Agroindustry, Alternative Energy, Entertainment, Industry, Logistics, Retail, Engineering Services and Health, among others.
Juan Antonio has served as ALAS’ Executive Director since 2009, contributing with his strategic vision and expertise in the establishment of powerful alliances with social and business leaders. During his administration he has played a vital role in obtaining resources for ALAS operation and for the development of projects in Latin America.
María Mercedes Liévano – General Deputy Director (2012 – PRESENT)
María Mercedes holds a Master’s Degree in Social Policy and Interventions from Utrecht Universiteit in The Netherlands (COLFUTURO Scholarship Grantee) and a degree in Psychology from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, in Colombia.
María Mercedes is a specialist in early childhood policies, with extensive experience on a national and international level, and in leading positions both in the private and public sectors. She has significant experience in leading positions in the Government of Colombia, in organizations such as: i) Colombian Institute for Family Welfare; ii) District’s Government Secretariat; iii) District’s Department of Education; and iv) Ministry of Education where she acted as the National Director of Early Childhood from 2009 to 2011.
María has also been a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank, where she provided technical advice to the Governments of Colombia and Panama in the design and implementation of comprehensive ECD policies. She was also a case manager for an early learning center in New York City, USA. As ALAS Foundation’s current General Deputy Director, Maria is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the foundation’s initiatives in Latin America.